Free child development lesson plans

Child development lesson plans for parents, including educational activities that are fun, interesting, and creative.

Nothing is more rewarding than spending time with children. They have a way of looking at the world with pure and absolute fascination, that they can teach adults as much as we can educate them! I have always lived by the motto that you can teach children anything. The key is to provide educational opportunities that are fun, interesting, and creative. One example of this was when a prospective grandparent visited my classroom as a possibility for her granddaughter. That particular week we were learning about "Endangered Species". When I told the grandmother this, she shook her head and said quite disapprovingly, "You can't teach four and five year olds about endangered species!"

I put my money where my mouth was and said, "Let's ask the children. Cameron, what does "╦ťendangered species' mean?" She replied, "That's an animal that there aren't very many left of. We have to protect them." Could have been an isolated event so I asked another, "Alex, tell me an animal that is endangered." He replied, "A Panda". Oh don't they just make you so proud! And these were two of the youngest in the class, at three-and-a-half! Yes, children can learn anything!

There are so many different activities to do with young children and I will outline a few of them here, divided up by themes.

Ocean Life:

Science - Taste the difference between "regular" tap water, and water with sea salt.

- Examine the difference between table salt and sea salt.

- Provide shells, sea sponges, coral, and wave bottles to explore

- Provide a bowl of water around 70 degrees and one with ice, to demonstrate temperature differences between surface and deep ocean water

Art - Supply blue paper, let them paint seaweed, fishes, rocks.

- Provide sea sponges to paint with

- Buy whole frozen fish with skin on. Let children paint one side of the fish and "stamp" it onto paper

- Cut cracker boxes in half. Put blue paper on the back, glue on seaweed, fish, etc. Cover with Saran wrap to make an aquarium

- Cut out octopus shapes and glue on cheerios for suction cups on the tentacles. (Can also be used for literacy as the cheerios are in the shape of the "O"

Literacy/Art - Let the children cut out a large black whale shape. Have W's previously cut out in white that the children glue on for teeth. For added effect, let them glue cracked eggshells on top.

Dramatic play - goggles, swim fins, large appliance size box with hole cut for window covered in blue cellophane for underwater submarine.


Science - Fossils, Palm Leaves, Petrified Wood, Leather feathers and faux crocodile skin to demonstrate how some of their different skins may have felt

Art/Science - Make fossils using plaster or cement. Pour into mold, like a sour cream or cottage cheese container. When almost dry push objects into and then remove leaving imprint. Can also be done with hands or feet.

- Get large white bed sheet and cut out a "life size" footprint of a dinosaur. Then paint each child's feet and let each one walk on the giant print.

- Paint with volcanoes. Give each child a lump of playdough and have each one make a small mound with a dip in it. Fill dip with baking soda, set dough on top of paper with tempera sprinkled on it, pour vinegar onto baking soda and it will "activate" the paint as it spills over.

Art/Literacy - Give the children brown paper cut in shape of volcano-or let them cut their own, give each one a "V" and tell the child to glue it at the top of the volcano. Let them tear strips of red, yellow and orange streamers and glue onto V for spewing lava.


Math - Try guessing how many of the same color bead, button, etc are in a jar and then count them

Art/Science - Freeze colored ice. Put it into a liquid of a complementary color and see what color the combination makes as it melts.

- Sprinkle dried tempera in complementary color and paint with the colored ice.

- Make playdough sculptures with the "color of the day"

- Add food coloring to white glue and squirt onto colored paper

- Mix colors in baby food jars

Sensory - Talk about how different colors might smell. Or think of what they might smell like ahead of time and use baby food jars with holes in the top and scented cotton balls inside of each color scent

Snack/Science - Make colored pudding with Vanilla and food colors. See what happens when different colors are mixed.

Literacy - Let each child make a book of colors by stapling together different colors of construction paper. Help each one to write the appropriate name of the color onto each page

Dramatic play - 3D glasses, color paddles (see through plastic lenses in different colors attached together), a colored parachute

"Time" for Math:

Math/Circle Time - Send paper lunch bags home with "Fill me with two things" written on the outside. Each child shares what he or she brought. Afterward the group tries to remember what each one brought.

- Put five like items in front of the group. All children close their eyes, but one who removes some of the items. The children then open their eyes and try to guess how many were removed.

- Have children sit in other shapes, "Square time", "Triangle Time", etc.

- Act out "Five Little Monkeys" by asking five children to stand, as monkeys are removed, another child sits down.

Math/Literacy/Art - Make pictures by dividing paper in half and gluing an amount of rice, peas, etc. on one side. Glue more on the other side. Help each child write "more" and "less" on the corresponding halves.

Math/Snack - Show children an apple, talk about how it is one whole apple. Then take another apple and cut it in half. Talk about how now, two parts make the whole. Do this again, but cut the third apple into four parts.

We haven't even scratched the surface of all of the fun and exciting educational opportunities available! Try to keep in mind when planning activities, that there are many areas of development that can be addressed: Large motor (think action), fine motor (think fingers), sensory, emotional, literacy and language (reading to and communicating WITH children will provide amazing results!), and creativity all need to be supported through various channels. Children will thrive, given the opportunity, and you will find that as they thrive, so will you!

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